Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Perspective: Iran's elite and mysterious fighters

BAGHDAD — Among the myriad military and intelligence agencies that make up Iran's security forces, none has the skill and reach of the Quds Force, an elite unit nominally within the command structure of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Like the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force and its predecessors were among the semiofficial militias, charities and centers of clerical power born of the paranoia and zeal of the tumultuous years after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power.

Originally, the Revolutionary Guard played a defensive role. In the 1980s, Iran's Shiite revolutionaries faced a war against Iraq as well as the hostility of Iranian secular nationalists, the West and Sunni-dominated regimes of the Middle East.

The Revolutionary Guard was entrusted to protect Khomeini's theocracy. But the revolutionaries also were inspired to spread their vision abroad.

Read the rest at the LA Times